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227 NE Jefferson
Peoria, IL 61602
T: 309-674-1 133
F: 309-674-6503

May 15, 2018

Moline Preservation Society Rock Island Preservation Society

Re: Rock Island Courthouse Building

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have been retained by the Rock Island Preservation Society and Moline Preservation
Society to provide an opinion whether demolition of the Rock Island Courthouse is a permissible
use for excess or surplus bond funds resulting from completion of work funded by the Justice
Center Revenue Refunding Bonds. We have reviewed the April 1 8th letter to The County of Rock
Island, signed by “Chapman and Cutler,” a Chicago law firm retained to help secure the original
$28M Project financing. We have also reviewed the applicable statutes, bonding and bond
issuance documents, and finally, facts and assumptions Chapman and Cutler relied upon in
expressing its opinions. We note initially that the law firm made no reference to terms of the
PBC “Amended and Restated Lease Agreement,” which state “If the amount of the Bond proceeds
set aside and made available under the terms of the Bond Resolution for the payment of the cost
of the Project should be in excess of the cost of the Project, the Commission will deposit such
excess in the Bond and Interest Account as provided by the Bond Resolution.” Failing to
acknowledge the existing mandated disposition of excess bond funds makes the entire opinion
suspect, in our view.

It is our opinion that nothing in the broad enabling statutes, or any of the public actions and
undertakings over the years authorizes PBC action to approve the use of surplus bond funds to
demolish the existing Rock Island County Courthouse. The Project was to build a good and
sufficient jail, and that purpose persists as the threshold for use of any surplus bond funds. There
is no reasonable argument made, or even an unreasonable argument made, that the demolition of
the historic courthouse has ever been the subject of a referendum of county voters. In point of
fact, the past referendum for building a new courthouse was rejected by the electorate, and implicit
in that outcome was voter say on the adequacy of the historic courthouse.

There is no reasonable argument made that the Project included demolition of the historic
courthouse. If a voter never has a right to a say whether she or he approves the cost of demolishing
an historic and functioning courthouse, then the citizens of that county are deprived of rights they
collectively hold and have never exercised. For the story of the subject location and the historic
structure, please see the attached history.

Moline Preservation Society
Rock Island Preservation Society
May 15, 2018
Page 2

The Chapman and Cutler opinion letter is not, in and of itself, a “go ahead.” It is a script
that lists actions which also must be taken in the future, including political/legislative action that
“finds necessity” that the demolition of the historic Courthouse constitutes “an improvement
necessary for the maintenance and security of the completed improvements.” It is a prescription
for bad governance when decision makers take instructions from lawyers on how to find a means
to an end, irrespective of the genuineness of the need to destroy and demolish the historic

There may be ways and means to the end of the Rock Island Courthouse as we know it.
But utilizing the Bond Funds raised for a “good and sufficient jail” is NOT one of the ways. We
believe that the County is placed at risk of potential litigation if it proceeds without general county
electorate approval to demolish the historic Courthouse.

Very truly yours,


regory A. Cerulo

GAC/lj h
4840-5297-5974 v. 1

On 1833, when the city of Stephenson (now known as Rock Island) was established, an area was
set aside for what would become Courthouse Square. The first courthouse was built three years
later. By the 1890’s the county was growing and a new courthouse was needed. In 1895, the
building committee approved the designs submitted by the Kansas City firm of Fredrick C. Gunn
and Louis S. Curtis for a new four-story, sixty-room courthouse. Designed in the Spanish
Renaissance, or Roman style, and completed in 1897, this courthouse closely resembles the Tarrant
County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, also constructed by Gunn and Curtis around the same
time. Constructed at a cost of over $100,000, the courthouse is 170 feet long with an exterior made
of Bedford limestone — a hard, fine-grained stone—which was selected to be blue in tint at the
foundation level and buff above that. The marvelous interior is every bit as beautiful as the
exterior. The lower two stories have deeply recessed joints between the stones, while the upper
floors are smooth. Floors in the central rotunda area and the corridors are of marble or tile. The
rotunda and corridors have pink Tennessee marble wainscoting. Other interior walls are paneled
in quartersawn oak or are frescoed. Original iron railings surround the rotunda and form stairway
railings. The building exhibits a variety of forms, including rounded arch windows and door
recesses, balconies, and a standing-seam metal roof. Only sixty years after being built, the copper
roofing on the domes had “worn out”. Rather than repairing or replacing the roofing, a decision
was made to remove all of the domes. The county courthouse remains a largely intact spectacular